Otari Gabeliya

Otari Gabeliya

Soviet football player, goalkeeper
Date of Birth: 24.03.1953
Country: Georgia

Biography of Otari Gabelia

Otari Gabelia was a Soviet football player and goalkeeper. He was born in Zugdidi, Georgia, and began playing football in the local neighborhood. In 1966, he joined the Dynamo school in Zugdidi, where he participated in district and city competitions and played in the Leather Ball tournament. Initially, Gabelia started as a forward, but due to certain circumstances, he became a goalkeeper. After suffering from pleurisy, he decided to continue his career as a goalkeeper.

Gabelia played for various clubs throughout his career, including Dynamo Zugdidi (1970-1971), Dynamo Sukhumi (1972-1973), Torpedo Kutaisi (1974-1976, 1983), and Dynamo Tbilisi (1977-1982). In 1978, he narrowly missed two games needed to receive a champion medal for Dynamo Tbilisi.

He also played for Guria Lanchkhuti in 1987 and was the captain of the team. Gabelia played a total of 300 matches in the top league of the Soviet Union, with 271 of them for Dynamo Tbilisi. He was known for his excellent reflexes and agility and had great leadership skills in guiding the defenders. However, he was sometimes overly emotional, which hindered him at times.

Aside from his playing career, Gabelia also had a successful coaching career. He served as the head coach of various Georgian clubs, including Odishi Zugdidi (1990-1992), Alazani Gurdzhani (1992-1993), Durudzhi Kvareli (1993-1995), Algeti Marnueli (1995-1997), and TGU Tbilisi (1997-1999). He also coached the Georgian national team from 1990 to 1992 and again from 1994 to 2003.

Gabelia's achievements include winning the Soviet Cup in 1979 and being a finalist in 1980. He was also the second-place finisher in the Soviet Championship in 1977 and the third-place finisher in 1981. He was recognized as the best goalkeeper in the Soviet Union in 1979 and was included in the symbolic "Lev Yashin Club" for his 131 matches without conceding a goal.

Outside of football, Gabelia graduated from the Institute of Subtropical Agriculture, specializing in agronomy. He is also the father of three sons, one of whom, Georgiy, followed in his footsteps and became a goalkeeper as well.